NCIS fans are still recovering from the exit of "Gibbs" in this week's episode.

We had a suspicion his time on the series was nearing an end, but it came much sooner than most imagined — in just Episode 4 this season. Still, fans might find solace in the fact that Mark Harmon himself had a hand in how it all played out.

NCIS: Mark Harmon's requests for exit episode

For starters, the exit caught fans off guard because there was no warning that the Oct. 11 episode would bid farewell to "Gibbs." And apparently that's just how Harmon wanted it.

Rather than advertise it as a dramatic, emotional send-off, Harmon specifically felt "it was crucial — especially with social media — that any hint of a twist be omitted," a source revealed to ET.

With all the off-screen rumours about Harmon possibly leaving NCIS, it appears the actor wanted the focus solely on the show and characters that have meant so much to fans for nearly 20 years.

But that's not all. Did you catch a personal connection to Mark Harmon in the episode? Well, that Alaska plot was not a coincidence...

In the end, "Gibbs" informs "McGee" that he's staying in the far-north state rather than taking his old job back at NCIS.

A source close to the series also told ET that: "The location (Alaska) was chosen because of Harmon's passion to fight to protect its wildlife" — a nice touch!

On Twitter, star Brian Dietzen confirmed that the production did truly head to Alaska for the shoot, too. So Harmon also got some time on location with his longtime friends.

Is Mark Harmon leaving NCIS for good?

Harmon's future with the show remains a little unclear, but the episode was treated as his "exit," at least as a series regular.

He's still going to produce the show, and the NCIS showrunner seemed to hint that guest appearances shouldn't be ruled out for the future.

In any case, it will be a whole new NCIS without the legendary boss, "Gibbs." But the 70-year-old Harmon went out on his own terms and even welcomed his wife Pam Dawber on the show for a guest stint in his final few episodes.

You can also click here to see how fans have been reacting to the "Gibbs" exit.

NCIS: "Gibbs" (Mark Harmon) has had a really tragic life story so far.


What is the name of Mark Harmon's iconic character in 'NCIS'?